Silkworm pathogenic bacteria infection model for identification of novel virulence genes



Silkworms are killed by injection of pathogenic bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, into the haemolymph. Gene disruption mutants of S. aureus whose open reading frames were previously uncharacterized and that are conserved among bacteria were examined for their virulence in silkworms. Of these 100 genes, three genes named cvfA, cvfB, and cvfC were required for full virulence of S. aureus in silkworms. Haemolysin production was decreased in these mutants. The cvfA and cvfC mutants also had attenuated virulence in mice. S. pyogenes cvfA-disrupted mutants produced less exotoxin and had attenuated virulence in both silkworms and mice. These results indicate that the silkworm-infection model is useful for identifying bacterial virulence genes.